I'm going to be taking you guys back 5 years to when I was preparing to become a momma myself. I feel enough time has passed that I can reflect on it honestly and share my experience without sugar coating it at all. I'm going to try my best to sum up all the emotions of new motherhood, but I know there's some things that just can't be summed up in a single blog post.
My husband and I were married young, and since we didn't do the whole 4 year college thing, we both knew what we wanted in life and having a baby was just a natural next step for us.
I was 21 and pregnant with our first child and E-L-A-T-E-D to be expecting a sweet baby. I stopped working around 34 weeks gestation and became a "stay/work at home mom". I have no idea what I did with all my time back then (watched a lot of TV probably) but I distinctly remember sitting in the nursery rocking chair, feeling my sweet Lena move within my womb and I would just stare at all the baby stuff we had accumulated and I'd sit there for a long time just day dreaming of bringing her home, strapping her in her car seat, dressing her in cute onesies and just loving the whole idea of having a newborn. I truly had no idea of what motherhood would actually bring.
To set the tone for my experience, I went 13 days overdue, which is never any fun at all. I was so done. My actual labor was surprisingly easy but pushing her out seemed to take all my energy and strength. She was born at 12:31am and when they laid her on my chest, all I could think were two things. 1 - Holy crap I'm so happy that's over. 2 - Holy crap, I now have a baby to take care of.
I was so exhausted once they got us into our recovery room that I didn't even hold her, we put her in the bassinet and ZONKED out - for a whole hour or two - when we were both awoken by the strange sounds of our new baby.
"Is she alright"
"Should we pick her up"
"I don't know what to do"
She had the hiccups, guys. This is how intimidated we were of our own baby.
Things went okay until our second day when little miss felt hungry but I wasn't producing much colostrum. She cried. A lot. We sent her to the nursery in desperation for some sleep but they always brought her back screeeeaming despite giving her a paci.
(Look how rough I look lol, and my lily white legs!)
^me not knowing what I'm doing
It seemed our baby was one of the two on the whole mother baby floor that cried often.
Everyone warns you about pregnancy hormones. They've got nothing on post partum hormones. Oh my word. Talk about feeling like you're in a strangers body. I wanted to cry all the time, for no real reason at all. So when the baby cried, most likely I was too, if not, I was angry.
I once heard somebody say "there is no such thing as an easy baby." I call BULL on that! I've now had one of each and I can say first hand, there is a big difference in an easy baby and a high needs baby and it makes a WORLD of difference in post partum mental health. Sure, an easy baby still has their difficulties and babies can't be grouped into just two categories of easy and hard, but there is a difference in the spectrum. If you're reading this and feel like your baby is on the harder side, here's a big high five from this mom who's been there, and a big ol' "keep going, it gets easier!".
If you have no idea what I'm talking about and did indeed have a blissful entrance to motherhood, I'm happy for you! I was blessed to have that with my second and it was wonderful and more of what I initially thought motherhood would be like.
Alright, back to the crying, or purple crying, as they call it. Or the witching hour. Lena's started around 5pm every night and she would literally scream/cry for about 3 hours straight before she finally went to sleep. And even then, we would lay her down, pick her up, lay her down, pick her up about 5 times before she would finally be down for her longest stretch. Night time was my only saving grace, she did sleep decently well. But during the day it seemed I was just on autopilot, wishing the hours away, I'd pretty much have to violently bounce her, pacing the house while being swaddled WHILE listening to a specific song on youtube (baby mine by celine dion) for her to go to sleep and it would take around 5 tries EACH nap (she took 5 a day!) and when I'd finally successfully close the door to catch a breather, she'd wake 15-20 minutes later and we would start over. My back felt like it was going to break, I literally skipped shampooing the back of my head for some reason for like 3 months and to top it off, she refused to nurse at 3 months and I went to exclusively pumping which was super fun as well.
Motherhood was not what I expected.
I recall laying out in the grass with my husband during one of her 15 minute naps and I just started crying. "I feel like I'm trapped here. I can't go anywhere, she'll just cry. You get to go to work. I can't handle this. I need help."
And even muttering those words out loud made me incredibly angry. I should be able to handle this baby! Motherhood should be blissful! Why did this seem so easy for other mothers and I seem to be lips above water with weights tied to my ankles?
It may not have looked like this from the outside ( or maybe it did, I did look pretty rough if you showed up at the house unannounced), but it's certainly how I felt. I needed something to change. There were times I was so frustrated with my child that I literally felt like throwing her out the window and saying uncle.
***^ Don't call CPS on me people, I didn't abuse her, but I did understand why shaken baby syndrome is a thing. The key is knowing when to lay her in the crib and walk away. (I even debated putting this in, for fear of judgement, but I wanted to be as honest as possible.) Be gentle with me here.
There were other struggles, but we pushed through and after a surprisingly easy "sleep training" we had a different baby on our hands! Once she learned to go to sleep on her own, she was such a happy baby, and I was a happy momma. Although we did bond over the course of her first 5 months and I loved her dearly, I finally was able to fully enjoy my baby and the fog that consumed my first five months of motherhood was lifted and I actually shampooed the back of my hair again! Halleluiah!
* She did turn out pretty cute, so there's that.
I'm writing this because all I seem to see in social media is how blessed and grateful and truly wonderful new mom's are, and that's great and they may feel that way. But it's also okay to not feel that way. It's okay if you cry every night, or if you feel like motherhood is not what you expected. You can still be a kick ass mom and love your child, and feel like your failing all at the same time. Keep on keeping on! Don't feel ashamed to ask for help. Don't feel like you're doing something wrong if you're not loving this season of life. It's hard. But it does get easier.
Until next time,
* Edited to add - that difficult baby grew into an extremely happy, albeit emotional/sensitive, almost 5 year old whom I adore and am so grateful for. She was worth every tear that fell from my eyes.